Chaotic Scene Unfolds as Teens Allegedly Run Taco Bell Alone

A video that shows two customers embroiled in a screaming match with a group of teenaged Taco Bell workers has gone viral on social media.

One of the workers, Sierra, posted the video to TikTok, writing: "Lol I'm so over this job. [W]e literally have no managers here, just three 16-year-olds, and [we] were training someone, and [one of the customers] got mad because she was too impatient to wait for her big a** order."

The post has amassed nearly 500,000 views and over 1,900 comments, some begging customers to be patient with "overworked" and "exhausted" food industry workers. You can watch the full video here.

Labor Shortages

According to National Restaurant News, the restaurant industry was still down 750,000 jobs—roughly 6.1 percent of its workforce—as of May. Some restaurants are so understaffed that individual employees have purportedly been forced to run entire stores alone.

Bicyclist passes Taco Bell restaurant
A video that shows two customers embroiled in a screaming match with a group of teenaged Taco Bell workers has gone viral on social media. Spencer Platt / Staff/Getty

"We're not sure where all the workforce went, but a lot of them have disappeared, from managers to chefs to hourlies," Dave Nicholas, a founding member of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, told CNBC. "Before, you could hire [employees] as fast as you needed them. These days, that's not the case."

As a result of this labor shortage, drive-thrus are slower, and restaurant wait times are longer, "even when [restaurants] aren't busy," CNBC reported. In turn, frustrated customers tip less or complain, leading employees to quit.

"It's a vicious cycle of people being unhappy with the service that may tip less, then they don't come back, and sales are down," Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California Berkeley, told CNBC.

'Take Your Order'

The customers in Sierra's video were purportedly upset because they had to wait for their food. So, they whipped out their phones and started berating Sierra and her co-workers.

"We're recording all of you," one customer said as the other looked through their food bags to ensure their order was correct.

"What the f**k do you want [us] to do?" Sierra asked. "Take your order."

The customers lectured Sierra about "professionalism." Meanwhile, they wouldn't leave the store.

"We're minors, and you're over here—" Sierra said before being cut off by the customer looking through the bags.

"Minors? Oh my god, oh my god," the customer said. "Lazy f**king minors."

Sierra responded by calling the customers lazy, saying: "Cook for your f**king kids. Why are you ordering [takeout]?"

In a follow-up video, Sierra and her co-worker said the customers initially pulled into the drive-thru to pick up their 30-item mobile order, but the drive-thru was busy. So, the workers asked the customers to park, took care of the long line, and then packaged the customers' food. Upset by this, the customers walked into the restaurant and started berating the staff.

"I don't know if they thought they were special because they had a mobile order...but we had a long line," Sierra said.

Viewers React

Most viewers took Sierra's side and bashed the customers' behavior.

"I will never understand how people can treat teenagers at fast food restaurants like this," Patricia Steve said.

"[S]o sorry you had to deal with that," Kayla wrote. "Some customers just truly have no respect or common sense."

"I will never understand why grown adults yell at teenagers over food, it's embarrassing and childish," jasmineeee commented.

Xandria Williams added: "RESPECT US AS FAST FOOD EMPLOYEES WE ARE SHORT STAFFED, OVERWORKED AND EXHAUSTED!!!!"

Newsweek has reached out to Sierra for comment.